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Data can help students navigate their education journey

10 de octubre de 2023

Por M’hamed el Aisati

Female students use laptops in stairwell. (©

How Elsevier data and analytics are used to support college and university rankings methodologies

University and college rankings are a valuable tool for people and organizations seeking objective insight into the strengths of universities and colleges. They’re widely used by students, parents, researchers, potential faculty members, funders, industry, and other organizations.

Rankings are easy to understand and provide an accessible way to compare higher education institutions based on similar criteria. They have grown in visibility and prominence over the past 20 years because they help:

  • Undergraduate or graduate students (and their parents) select a university.

  • Higher education institutions attract international students.

  • Governments measure research performance.

  • Companies select the right research partners.

  • Funders make investment decisions.

There are more than 20 university ranking reports or organizations with a global focus, and many more with regional or discipline-specific rankings. Each university or college is unique in its mission and purpose; each ranking has its niche, methodology, data sources and indicators. While rankings are highly beneficial, we caution they each have their own limitations; for example, methodologies can have limitations, and completeness of data can be a challenge.

Elsevier’s Analytical Services team provides data and analytical support for ranking organizations including Times Higher Education (THE)se abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS)se abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana, ShanghaiRanking Consultancy (SRC)se abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana for the Best Chinese Universities Ranking — and our new partner, U.S. News & World Reportse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana.

U.S. News & World Report 2024 Best Colleges Rankings

Recently, we announced our new partnership with U.S. News & World Report on its 2024 Best Colleges Rankingsse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana.

U.S. News has placed a greater emphasis on outcomes, including how often students from all socioeconomic backgrounds earned degrees and graduated with manageable debt. U.S. News & World Report Executive Chairman and CEO Eric Gertler stated:

The significant changes in this year’s methodology are part of the on-going evolution to make sure our rankings capture what is most important for students as they compare colleges and select the school that is right for them.

U.S. News Principal Data Analyst Eric Brooks added:

Part of these changes included the addition of faculty research metrics, and these metrics were calculated using Scopus and SciVal data. It is the first time that faculty research has been included in the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings methodology.

Nearly 1,500 colleges and universities across the country are ranked in U.S. News’s Best Colleges, helping students across the country and overseas make decisions about which college to attend. This is the first time U.S. News has included bibliometrics data in this ranking methodology. 

Two of Elsevier’s world-leading Research Intelligence tools — SciVal and Scopus — are being used to complement U.S. News’s existing methodology. Four data points have been supplied for participating institutions to assess the new indicator of Faculty Research:  

  • Citations per publication — the average number of citations a college’s publications receive. 

  • Proportion of publications in journals ranking in the top 5% of CiteScorese abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana values. 

  • Proportion of publications in journals ranking in the top 25% of CiteScore values. 

  • Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI).  

We are thrilled to collaborate with U.S. News as we jointly strive to provide our communities with authoritative information, enabling them to make informed decisions that will enhance their lives. It’s a privilege to help universities calibrate how they are progressing as they carry out their vitally important work.

M’hamed el Aisati

As VP of Analytical and Data Services at Elsevier, M’hamed el Aisatise abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana leads a team that looks after content and analytical services, supporting large research performance evaluation program and rankings. Previously, he was VP of Funding, Content and Analytics (2016–20) and Director of Content and Analytics (2012–16).

M’hamed joined Elsevier in 1998 and contributed to the development of the company’s first digital journals platform, which preceded ScienceDirect. In 2004, he helped launch Scopus. M’hamed was granted a master’s degree in computer sciences from the University of Amsterdam. He has published several papers in peer reviewed journals and holds two patents.


M’hamed el Aisati, VP of Analytical Data and Services


M’hamed el Aisati

VP, Analytical Services and Data


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